"The eyes of the world are upon you."

Several years ago, I woke up in a haze just as Sam closed the garage door and headed to work. I confess it was earlier in the day than I preferred to wake up, especially in the summertime with nowhere to be. It wasn't the sound of him leaving that roused me, however. It was the sound of what I thought, in my just-woken stupor, was a lawnmower coming along the side of our yard into the back. My initial thought was, "Oh that is SO nice. One of our neighbors must have gotten sick of our knee-high backyard weeds and decided to mow for us." Then in just a few seconds the sound got louder. And louder. It was so loud that the house began to shake.  As I was now more lucid, I realized it was obviously not the early morning neighborly gesture of a backyard lawn-mowing.  I jumped out of bed, looked out my bedroom window and saw a helicopter hovering above the trees behind our playground.  Not only was a helicopter preparing to touch down, but half a dozen policemen with guns drawn were sprinting across the yard, trying to get into my shed, trying to open our back gate, looking under the kids back porch "fort" made out of a sheet thrown over a card table.  As someone unaccustomed to this kind of excitement, I panicked (code word for "started to cry").  I made sure all of the doors were locked, that the alarm system was armed, checked on each of my sleeping babies, and I called Sam (no answer).

Then I did what every self-respecting woman would do in that situation.  I called my dad - you know, the one who probably wasn't awake yet and lives 800 miles away.  I'm not exactly sure what I thought he could do, but I thought he might be able to talk me down from crisis mode.  Or, at least, be on the phone with me when the serial killer I presumed to be hiding in my house popped out from my kitchen pantry and murdered me.

Thankfully that didn't happen.  And my dad is a very calm soul who successfully navigated a 6:30am phone call with a crying crazy person.  He stayed on the phone until the helicopter was gone, the policemen had dispersed, and Sam returned my call.  It turns out, some men who robbed a nearby convenience store had fled on foot through our neighborhood.  They were apprehended a few doors down the street hiding by our drainage pond.

Local law enforcement doesn't play.  (Thanks, Men in Blue.)

I think about this day a lot.

I think about how fortunate I am to live under a blanket of safety every minute of every day.  I think about the fact that I really don't know what it is to fear.  I take for granted the protections of our local police, the state police, and on a much larger scale, our United States armed forces.  I think about what it must be like to live in war-torn nations today.  And to not know whether you will make it home alive from something as innocent as going to the market.  I think of what it must be like to know that a foreign power has invaded your homeland, and to not know the fate of your future.

And today, I think about the brave young men who landed on a beach in France 72 years ago, as part of a collective effort to preserve freedom. 

On June 6, 1944, across an ocean while most Americans were sleeping, 156,000 Allied troops resolved to fight evil and take back Normandy.  Ultimately, because of this invasion, the liberty of an entire continent and possibly, the entire world, was preserved.

We have no idea what that was like for them - the horrors of what they did, saw, lived through, and died from.  As time marches on, all we have is the memory of a generation of men and women who banded together as a country in big ways and small ways to ensure that the war was never fought on our turf, so that our safety on American soil was never threatened.

As we study history, I am regularly moved to tears by the convictions of those who came before us - how brave and resolute and brilliant they were.  I love this country.  And I'm so thankful to be a citizen of it.  I will never be able to thank enough, the men and women who sacrificed to give it to us.  May we never take our freedom for granted.
“Posterity! You will never know how much it cost the present Generation to preserve your Freedom! I hope you will make good use of it. If you do not, I shall repent in Heaven, that I ever took half the Pains to preserve it.”  – John Adams, in a letter to Abigail addressed July 1777
"They fight not for the lust of conquest.  They fight to end conquest.  They fight to liberate." ~ Franklin Delano Roosevelt, radio address June 6, 1944
“History does not long entrust the care of freedom to the weak or the timid.”
–Dwight D. Eisenhower, first presidential inaugural address, January 1953

“Freedom is a fragile thing and is never more than one generation away from extinction. It is not ours by inheritance; it must be fought for and defended constantly by each generation, for it comes only once to a people. Those who have known freedom and then lost it have never known it again.” ~ Ronald Reagan, from his first inaugural speech as governor of California, January 5, 1967
The Greatest Generation is quickly dwindling.  I just pray we continue to honor their tenacity, valor, and grit long after they're gone.  May we pick up the baton and run like our freedom depends on it.


Sharon said...

I too am chagrined at how quickly people forget the freedom that so many gave so much to secure for us. May we never take for granted the sacrifices. May we live to carry on the torch...


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